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Voices of Immigration: A Discussion of United States Immigration Policy



Barrington Interfaith Partners presented “Voices of Immigration: A discussion of US immigration policy and the experience of two immigrants” a week ago at St John’s Episcopal Church in Barrington. The program featured National Immigration Activist and leader of Rhode Island’s #FreeLilian campaign Gabriela Domenzain, Lilian Calderon, a Rhode Island mother who faced deportation after being detained for a month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Rodrigo Pimentel, a DACA recipient and DREAMer.

Below is all the video:

“I immigrated to the United States at 10 months of age of Portugal, with my family,” said Rodrigo Pimentel. “Since then, America has been my home. I grew up here, in the State of Rhode Island, went to our public schools here, work here, study here at the University of Rhode Island, and yet, each day I wonder how the next will be, because I’m undocumented.

“I overstayed my visa as an infant. I’ve been unable to do the things that many people take for granted. I can’t leave the country, because I won’t be allowed back in. When I was growing up, I was was often worried whether I’d be able to drive, what I would do when I grew up, where I would work, just because of a paper that I didn’t have…”

“I immigrated to the United States at the age of three. Throughout my whole life I have been undocumented, documented, undocumented again, detained by ICE, almost deported by ICE, and documented agains,” said Lilian Calderon, now a legal permanent resident. “Up until May of this year I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to live in the country I called my home, raised my children and continue the life we started building here.

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“I know first hand how desperately we need immigration reform.”

“Today there are 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country,” said Gabriela Domenzain. “Let’s talk about the last time our immigration laws were actually reformed. I think some of you weren’t even born then… 1986… That was the last time our country reformed its immigration laws. We didn’t have computers. We didn’t have email. We definitely didn’t have DNA collections and all that kind of stuff…

“So when we say our immigration laws are broken, they truly are. They are so so so antiquated that folks, even if they have a ‘right’ to be in this country, have to wait decades in order to do so…”

Previous pieces on Lilian Calderon:

Previous reporting featuring Rodrigo Pimentel:

Here is the rest of the video:

Trinki Bruekner introduces Patrick Green, Rector at St John’s Episcopal Church to deliver a prayer:

Question from the audience:

Bill Rappleye of WJAR/10 was the reporter responsible for breaking the story of Lilian Calderon, and since he was attending, he was asked to say a few words:

Rabbi Andrew Klein of Temple Habonim gives the closing prayer:

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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